SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council finally approved restructuring plans last Tuesday May 5. Actions to decrease the $224 million deficit over the next two years were also evaluated. The meeting “may be remembered as the hardest City Council meeting in the City’s history”, according to a press release by the City of Santa Monica.
In a Coronavirus update on YouTube, Mayor Kevin McKeown spoke about the meeting. “Unlike in the 2009 recession, I’m afraid this time you will notice the difference. Further, these changes mean that many valued employees of our city are going to have to accept pay cuts, reduced work hours, furloughs, or even layoffs.”
Mayor McKeown added, “to the well over a thousand community members who wrote to us, joined the meeting last night, or called in to comment, the Council says thank you. Everyone has different opinions on the changes proposed, but the common theme of how much we all care about Santa Monica came through loud and clear last night during that meeting.”
$117 million in one-time funds was approved to handle the deficit. The plan will also lower deficits in Santa Monica’s General Fund by $86.2 million.
City Council operations will adjust to meet the community’s needs after a staff plan was approved in a 6-1 vote. Another update is the termination of 337 staff employees. This week, the thirty-day layoff notices will be sent out. “The City will provide support to any separating staff, including employment training and services,” as stated in the press release.
“In restructuring the City organization to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, we will prioritize our community’s changed needs and the foundational services that make us Santa Monica – strong public safety, clean and vibrant public spaces, engaged civic life, and care for the vulnerable – while also protecting the public health and ensuring that we support strong and sustainable economic recovery for our families and local businesses,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.
$2 million has been set aside for Council priorities. The areas of focus include: preventing evictions, food security for the most in need, funding for youth programs, and modifying mobility programs and sustainability measures.
The community will see upcoming changes such as: limited Santa Monica Public Library access for certain locations, Santa Monica Swim Center closed until determined safe, and reduced hours for Memorial Park Gym and Cove Skate Park.
Relief funding information from the state and federal governments remain pending as Santa Monica moves forward.